BBC Radio 4 vs Rush Limbaugh: “How They Made Us Doubt Everything” Episode 6 “Reposition Global Warming as theory, not fact”

If I sound like a broken record endlessly repeating the faults of prominent accusers relying on those worthless “reposition global warming theory” ‘leaked memos’ to indict skeptic climate scientists of corruptly colluding with fossil fuel industry people in alleged disinformation campaigns, it’s because the Al Gore side of this issue continually relies on them as the cornerstone ‘smoking gun evidence’ supporting that accusation. For example: in Gore’s 2006 movie; in the latest global warming lawsuits; in the latest online ‘news’ articles; in recent college student ‘journalism’ reporting efforts that are reported about at left-wing organizations; in recent ‘journalism’ podcasts highly resembling this current BBC podcast that rely on the same source person; in recent tweets by people directly associated with those accusers (tweets / prominent accusers, plural); on and on and on. Don’t get me started on how far back this enslavement is seen to those worthless memos.

The latest regurgitation of the story is the podcast in my title above, where the BBC makes the blunder of trying to tie mega-famous conservative U.S. radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh into the story. Episode 6 is available online right now for listening while being scheduled for on-air radio broadcast this coming Monday, August 3, 2020. I submitted a formal complaint with the BBC to pull the podcast from its schedule because of four major factual errors within the presentation, namely two unfounded claims made about two sets of ‘leaked industry memos’, an unfounded insinuation about the reach of an infomercial read by Rush Limbaugh, and the egregious insertion of an ethnicity word into a quote from one of those never-used memos that is not actually in the memos.

In particular, the collective “How They Made Us Doubt Everything” series of podcasts places so much stock in the unsolicited, never used (let me emphasize again alternatively, from the never implemented memo set) proposal submitted for use in the old, hardly seen “Information Council for the Environment” pilot project public relations campaign, that they quoted its supposedly sinister target audience goal three separate times.

One possible target audience includes older, lesser educated males from larger households.

That line is spoken in the same ominous voice not only in their initial two minute introductory broadcast, heard at the 1:10 point here but also in their Episode 2 at the 4:09 point, and in Episode 6 at the 11:51 point.

Hold this thought for a few moments: that line is part of the rejected proposal’s strategy / targeting memo phrases that Ross Gelbspan made famous in his 1997 “The Heat is On” book which he somehow magically ‘obtained’ a year earlier in conjunction with the Ozone Action environmentalist group; the same strategy memo phrase that Al Gore said Gelbspan ‘discovered’ and the same targeting memo phrases that Gore quoted in his 1992 “Earth in the Balance” book years before Gelbspan ever mentioned them.

Those points factor into this BBC Radio4 podcast, but only within the last 5 minutes of this 14 minute podcast. The first three minutes of it are wasted in an unrelated tangent about Lawrence Livermore atmospheric scientist Ben Santer, then after the 5:59 point, it attempts to portray the 1998 American Petroleum Institute “victory will be achieved” memo as some sort of smoking gun evidence proving the fossil fuel industry disinformation campaigns exist — that’s also false, but is a whole other story.

Discussion of the situation surrounding the title piece memos doesn’t begin until the 9:05 point, and begins poorly with a silly voice doing a bad imitation of radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh reading portions of an infomercial ad that actually was part of the genuine short-lived ICE campaign. Right after that at the 9:59 point, we hear directly from Kert Davies, introduced earlier at the 4:42 point as being “from the Climate Investigations Center” — yes, that Kert Davies, former worker at Ozone Action, the place that magically obtained the “reposition global warming” memos without ever saying who their source was. Regarding Limbaugh, Davies and podcast host Peter Pomerantsev offer the following:

Davies: So, Rush Limbaugh was the most widely listened-to conservative talk show host at that time on radio stations across the country. We have the language that Rush Limbaugh read on the air.
Pomerantsev: And, who was behind it? This is written by a group calling themselves the Information Council on the Environment. Again it sounds like it’s going to be run by an environmental lobby group, but it’s run by the group that represents the electrical companies in America.

The smallest error highlighted in red there is the actual name of ICE, it’s “for” not “on” as seen in “Greenpeace USA née Ozone Action”’s own scan copy (page 13 here) of the Limbaugh infomercial, and in other genuine papers from the ICE campaign. The bigger error is Pomerantsev’s incorrect claim about a rep for electric utilities running the ICE campaign, the actual operator was the not-for-profit Western Fuels Association cooperative which oversees transfers of coal to power plants (I covered this recent odd switch from blaming WFA to blaming electric utilities in my April 11, 2020 blog post). The question there is whether accusers now realize their nearly 20 year accusation about WFA having those memos is false.

The real problem regarding what they say about Rush Limbaugh is their apparent insinuation that Limbaugh read the ICE infomercial ad to his nationwide audience, influencing his 5-10 million radio show listeners at that time. He did not read it to his national audience.

As seen within “Greenpeace USA née Ozone Action”‘s other ICE memos scans, the Limbaugh ad was only scheduled to play in the Fargo, North Dakota area, which only had a total population of a bit over 74,400 at the time. How many were listening to the radio at all that day, and how many less actually caught the 60-second infomercial, if it actually played at all?

No effort was made by Kert Davies to correct the perception of a vastly wider audience hearing that solitary ad. As a worker at Greenpeace during the time when the old Ozone Action docs scans were uploaded into Greenpeace archives, he should have known about that page. Pomerantsev, by the way, doesn’t mention in this episode that Davies worked at Greenpeace, but to his credit he did at least sort of mention that in passing within Episode 1 (at the 10:40 point) that Davies “used to lobby for Greenpeace,” an arguably a less than transparent statement. Davies worked directly for Greenpeace within its ExxonSecrets division. At least in Episode 5, Pomerantsev finally states directly at the 5:16 point that Davies worked for Greenpeace … he just doesn’t say in what capacity. For contrast, compare that to how ‘reporter’ Amy Westervelt didn’t use the name Greenpeace in any part of her descriptions of Davies in her collection of 2018 Drilled podcasts. To their discredit, both podcasts portray Davies as an objective collector / analyst of industry documents, when his history of smearing skeptic climate scientists via unsupportable accusations about funding corruption suggests he truly is not.

Not missing a beat in this BBC podcast, Davies immediately followed the bit about Limbaugh with ye olde never-used “reposition global warming” memos, at the 10:27 point:

Davies: The key line from that one is that they want to reframe the science from fact to theory.
Especially ominous voice: Informed Citizens for the Environment – Strategies: Reposition global warming as theory (not fact) ……
…… Test Market Proposal – Objectives: 1) Demonstrate that a consumer-based media awareness program can positively change the opinions of a selected population regarding the validity of global warming. 2) Begin to develop a message and strategy for shaping public opinion on a national scale.
Pomerantsev: A good marketing strategy would never talk about “the public,” this is how you know you’re dealing with professionals, they’ll do a segmentation, they’ll go kind of, well —
Davies [interrupting]: This is the shocking part about this one, they talk about targeting “lower educated white males” and they have, like, specific demographics that they’re gonna target, it’s that mercenary.

No, it is not. I emphasize again, that strategy / targeting proposal was unsolicited, rejected, and never used, which includes alternative suggested names such as “Informed Citizens.” One increment now exponentially worse for Kert Davies’ personal credibility, the word white never appears anywhere in the “Greenpeace USA née Ozone Action” scans regarding people’s skin color.

Why would Davies feel any kind of compulsion to inject an element of ethnicity into this narrative?

What follows immediately after that also undercuts Davies’ insertion about skin color:

Davies: Uh, let me find the exact quote. Uh, here it says —
Especially ominous voice: One possible target audience includes … older, lesser educated males from larger households, who are not typically information seekers … Members of this group are … predisposed to favor the ICE agenda. … They are good targets for radio advertisements. Another possible target segment is younger, lower-income women ……
…… A campaign strategy reaching out to these target groups can help to change attitudes.
Davies: So they are targeting those two audiences, seeing if they can bend the needle from what they’ve already secured as the baseline data that people are very concerned about this.
Pomerantsev: For me, this document is one of the most revealing things I’ve seen while making the series. It shows how, in 1991, pollsters had already clocked that what they called low educated, older white males could be swayed on climate change.

No mention of “white” from the unnamed ominous voice’s quotes, but presenter Pomerantsev nevertheless repeats Kert Davies’ egregiously inexplicable insertion of an ethnic description — “white” — into a total falsehood about a strategy that – I repeat once again – was never solicited in the first place, rejected outright, and thus by default, never used.

At the time when this particular discussion was recorded – weeks or maybe months ago – presenter Pomerantsev and show creator/producer Phoebe Keane should have immediately stopped the recording and asked why Davies inserted a significant charged word into his quote of the alleged ‘leaked memo’ that wasn’t in there. Then they should have asked how and when he got the “reposition global warming” memo set in the first place, and then they should have undertook basic journalistic due diligence to find out why those memos are said in recent years to be the product of electric utilities action when the prior two decades of stories about them mostly blame the Western Fuels Association. All of those basic curiosity questions might have led them to wonder why Al Gore labeled Ross Gelbspan as a Pulitzer winner when he clearly is not and what Gelbspan’s connection was to the old Ozone Action group, and how it works out that Kert Davies’ former boss there and at Greenpeace is the same guy seen with him attempting to trash the reputation of Exxon, and then finally wonder what’s up with all the cash that’s being dumped into that guy’s non-public business in 6-figure amounts each year lately, and how much of that is being funneled into Davies’ Climate Investigations Center ….. and for what purpose.

Around $5 million total, according to the tally ending with the last available IRS form, where potentially we could add another $4 million if the trend stayed the same for the last two years. I’ve tagged that overall problem in my blog post category “What $5 mill might buy.”

With all due respect to presenter Pomerantsev and show creator/producer Phoebe Keane, their scorn is aimed 180° in the wrong direction. They might need to ask if $5 million or more buys podcasts like theirs, where all of their other surrounding podcast segments on the tobacco industry tactics are little more then a disingenuous apples and oranges setup to support the notion that two sets of worthless leaked memos from the fossil fuel industry are no different than the tobacco industry’s collective efforts to bury the very real harm of cigarette smoking. Does $5 million or more buy years’ worth of a distraction tactic designed to hide the fact that enviro-activists can’t actually apparently debunk science-based climate assessments from skeptic climate scientists — e.g. one of the targets of this BBC podcast?
Part 2: Rush responds, “I don’t remember this stupid ad!